Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Three approaches to Ecoconscious Christmas Gift Wrapping
A good way to reduce your environmental impact at Christmas is to adopt an ecoconscious approach to gift wrapping. Bows and ribbons can make your Christmas gifts look pretty, but these Christmas trimmings can harm the planet. According to Repak, 6 million rolls of wrapping paper (equivalent to 94,240 Christmas trees) are used in Ireland during Christmas.
Below are three different approaches to choose from, depending on how much time and energy you might have.
1 “Light Green” Approach – Purchase Mindfully
a) Take an inventory
Before you buy anything, it’s a good idea to check what supplies you have left over from last year so that you are only buying what you need.
b) Choose Ecofriendly Options
When you do go shopping, choose simple wrapping paper that can be easily recycled after Christmas. Avoid foil backed paper (which can't be recycled), paper with glitter (microplastic) and plastic ribbons, bows, etc. Instead try to choose non-foil paper and paper that hasn’t been bleached or heavily processed.
In an ideal world we’d all be buying recycled wrapping paper. However, it is not easy to find and is more expensive. Reuzi.ie sell recycled gift wrap at €1.60 per sheet and the best I could find on Amazon is €1.70 per sheet (Re-wrapped Store). Hopefully these products will become more widely available in time and less expensive but for now it’s probably out of budget for most of us.
Try to avoid selotape as not only is it plastic but it also makes gift wrapping harder to recycle after Christmas. Good alternatives are washi tape (Muji, Art and Hobby Shop) or brown paper tape (Reuzi, Amazon).
2. “Mid Green” Approach – Brown Paper or Fabric Alternatives
You can make your gifts stand out by wrapping them in sustainable materials, such as brown paper, organic cotton, hemp or silk. Tie them with some twine and decorate with natural materials, such as fir, rosemary, pinecones, etc.
You could also use a bag or container, which can also be part of your gift. For example, packing a gift inside a reusable cotton bag that can be used afterwards as a shopping tote or shoe bag.
3. “Deep Green” Approach – Reuse & Repurpose
I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to ribbons, nice bags, etc. and I gather bits and pieces over the year and this comes out at Christmas or whenever I am wrapping gifts. Good sources of wrapping paper are:
- Paper bags
- Childrens’ Art
- Newspapers (See Youtube for tutorials on making newspaper gift bags)
- Old calendars
- Reuse fabric – scarves, T-Shirts, etc. (See Furoshiki Tutorials on Youtube!)
- Fabric gifts – scarves, shopping totes, teatowels, which become part of the gift
- Containers – bottles, biscuit tins, jars, plant pots, biscuit tins, etc.
For decorating your presents there are many options, which will make your gifts extra special:
- Ask your kids to paint/draw on the paper before wrapping the gift
- Use ink stamps
- Tie with Twine/Hemp cord
- Finish with Pinecones, Fir, Rosemary, etc.
My personal approach is a mixture of the above.
I generally use brown paper to wrap presents. At the moment I’m completely out and with the shops closed, I resorted to buying it from Amazon rather than buying it locally. The good news is that I found recycled brown paper in a 100m roll so that’s me sorted for a long time! (Triplast Brown ECO Kraft Paper). I also use up paper bags that I’ve collected during the year when I’m wrapping my presents.
I use brown paper tape, washi tape or just hemp cord (all biodegradable) to tie up parcels. I try to avoid selotape at all costs and if the gift shape and size allows for it, I just use the hemp cord to tie up the present and skip on the tape completely.
To decorate gifts, I use ribbon and other bits and pieces I’ve collected and I add on sprigs of rosemary from my overgrown herb garden! I get my boys to draw and paint on the brown paper or I use a Christmas ink stamp (if I have time!)
Finally, when you are recycling gift wrap after Christmas, try to remember to remove the selotape, ribbons or bows as these can’t be recycled.
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